MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — From school resource officers to supervisors, all sworn officers with the Murfreesboro Police Department will soon be equipped with body cameras.

It’s a big investment, as officials with the department look to put transparency and accountability at the forefront of their actions.

“We don’t want to be hidden. We want you to see what we do,” explained Murfreesboro Police Capt. Don Fanning. 

Equipping the city’s police officers with body-worn cameras has been in the works for more than a year.

“We did a lot of research, we did a lot of testing,” the captain said. “We looked at what other agencies were doing for their policies and their use of them everyday and how they are beneficial.”

A nearly 11-year deal was sealed with Arizona-based Axon enterprises to supply body cameras, in-car cameras for patrol vehicles, video storage, and camera upgrades over the years, costing the Murfreesboro Police Department a total of $7,997,384.

“There is significant investment with it, but we think it’s well worth it for what we get out of it,” said Fanning.

A policy was implemented and training began for officers in the fall, according to Fanning, with the department rolling out cameras in the last few months.

“We’ve had a long-standing history of using video cameras in general. Back in the early 90s, we started rolling out in-car cameras, and as time has come along, what we decided was, you know, as technology’s advanced, and kind of what the public expects it advanced, we thought, ‘Well now is a great time for us to move forward in that area,'” he said.

Two hundred sixty body cameras have been issued so far, with automation serving as one of the key features of the Axon system.

When the blue lights are activated, not only does the dash camera began filming, but so does the body cam, making it easier for the officer to focus on the job at hand.

“It’s less they have to think about, because it’s automated,” Fanning added.

In addition, when it comes to downloading the footage, the in-car system and Wi-Fi inside the department handle that automatically.

“They don’t even have to think about doing it. That way nothing gets lost, nobody misplaces or forgets to download. It’s happening in the background for them automatically,” said Fanning.

Body cameras have been touted as a tool for building trust between communities and local police. Footage has also been used to prosecute officers in high-profile cases of excessive force, like the death of George Floyd in 2020.

The Metro Nashville Police Department deployed officer body-worn cameras in July 2021 following protests against police brutality, as well as the need for more transparency nationwide.

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“It’s important for our citizens here to see what we do and how we do, because we work for them,” Fanning stated.

The Murfreesboro Police Department plans to have all 310 body cameras distributed by the end of the month.